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The Choice is Yours
Today's Decision For the Rest of Your Life
By John C. Maxwell
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2005 Maxwell Motivation, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ATTITUDE is a CHOICE
LIFE IS TEN PERCENT HOW WE MAKE IT; NINETY PERCENT HOW WE TAKE IT.
ATTITUDE is the Difference Maker
WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS about attitude? Does it really make a difference? You bet it does! Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude. When facing an opponent of equal ability, the right attitude can give you the edge. Who enjoys everything more, sees more opportunities, and lives life with greater enthusiasm? The individual with the best attitude. Truly, attitude is the difference maker.
As you examine your attitude and decide what to make it, remember these truths:
1. No Matter What, Your Attitude is a Choice. Circumstances may not be of your choosing, but your attitude is all yours.
2. It's Easier to Maintain the Right Attitude than to Regain It. Fight to develop a positive attitude, and then don't let it slip.
3. Your Attitude Determines Your Actions. Your outlook will determine your life's outcomes more than any other single factor.
4. The People You Lead Reflect the Attitude You Possess. If you have any responsibility for others—as a boss, parent, or volunteer leader—the attitude of your people is a reflection of your own.
Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them. LEO TOLSTOY
Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed. ABRAHAM LINCOLN
PROMISES with a Payoff
1. PROMISE: If you learn from your mistakes and then let them go ...
PAYOFF: ... you will be able to focus on the present.
2. PROMISE: If you rise above the pettiness of people and small annoyances ...
PAYOFF: ... you will be able to give your energy to the important things.
3. PROMISE: If you take time for physical rest, spiritual reflection, and relaxing recreation ...
PAYOFF: ... you will be able to think clearly and energetically.
4. PROMISE: If you enjoy today and all it has to offer ...
PAYOFF: ... you will be better prepared for tomorrow.
5. PROMISE: If you express gratitude to God and others through words and actions ...
PAYOFF: ... you will be aware of the value they bring to you.
6. PROMISE: If you give more than you receive ...
PAYOFF: ... you will contribute to society, surprise your spouse, and model for your children.
God chooses what we go through. We choose how we go through it.
The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER
Attitude more than age determines energy. ROBERT SCHULLER
It's All In Your MIND
HIS NAME IS Roger Crawford. He makes his living as a consultant and public speaker. He's written two books, and travels all across the country working with Fortune 500 companies, national and state associations, and school districts.
Those aren't bad credentials. But if that doesn't impress you, how about this: before becoming a consultant, he was a varsity tennis player for Loyola Marymount University and later became a professional tennis player certified by the United States Professional Tennis Association. Still not impressed? Would you change your opinion if I told you Roger has no hands and only one foot!
Roger Crawford was born with a condition called ectrodactylism. When he emerged from his mother's womb, the doctors saw that he had a thumb–like projection extending out of his right forearm, and a thumb and finger growing out of his left forearm. He had no palms. His legs and arms were shortened. And his left leg possessed a shrunken foot with only three toes. (The foot was amputated when he was five.) Roger's parents were told by various medical professionals that he would never be able to walk, probably would not be able to take care of himself, and would never lead a normal life.
After recovering from the shock, Roger's parents were determined to give him the best chance possible for living a normal life. They raised him to feel loved, to be strong, and to develop independence. "You're only as handicapped as you want to be," his father used to tell him. They encouraged him to do everything his heart desired. And they taught him to think positively.
"Something my parents never did was to allow me to feel sorry for myself, or to take advantage of people because of my handicap," observes Roger.
Roger appreciated the encouragement and training he received from his parents, but I don't think he really understood the significance of it or his achievements until he was in college and he interacted with someone who wanted to meet him. After receiving a phone call from a man who had read about his tennis victories, Crawford agreed to meet him at a nearby restaurant. When Roger stood up to shake hands with the man, he discovered that the other guy had hands that were almost identical to his. That got Crawford excited, because he thought he had found someone similar to him but older who could act as his mentor. But after talking with the stranger for a few minutes, he realized he was wrong. Roger says: Instead, what I found was someone with a bitter, pessimistic attitude who blamed all of life's disappointments and failures on his anatomy.
I soon recognized that our lives and attitudes couldn't have been more different.... He had never held a job for long, and he was sure this was because of "discrimination"—certainly not because (as he admitted) he was constantly late, frequently absent, and failed to take any responsibility for his work. His attitude was, "The world owes me," and his problem was that the world disagreed. He was even angry with me because I didn't share his despair.
We kept in touch for several years, until it dawned on me that even if some miracle were suddenly to give him a perfect body, his unhappiness and lack of success wouldn't change. He would still be at the same place in his life.
That man had allowed failure to seize him from the inside.
Chances are that the adversity in your life has been nowhere near as difficult as Roger Crawford's has been. And that's why his story is such an inspiration. Roger maintains, "Handicaps can only disable us if we let them. This is true not only of physical challenges, but of emotional and intellectual ones as well.... I believe that real and lasting limitations are created in our minds, not our bodies."
From FAILING FORWARD
Attitudes determine actions. You are not what you think you are. What you think, you are.
I don't believe in pessimism. If something doesn't come up the way you want, forge ahead. If you think it's going to rain, it will. CLINT EASTWOOD
We are either the masters or the victims of our attitudes. It's a matter of personal choice—blessing or curse.
What is an ATTITUDE?
It is the "advance man" of our true selves.
Its roots are inward but its fruit is outward.
It is our best friend or our worst enemy.
It is more honest and more consistent than our words.
It is an outward look based on past experiences.
It is a thing which draws people to us or repels them.
It is never content until it is expressed.
It is the librarian of our past;
It is the speaker of our present;
It is the prophet of our future.
From THE WINNING ATTITUDE
Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. THOMAS JEFFERSONCHAPTER 2
CHARACTER IS A CHOICE
A GOOD HEART IS BETTER THAN ALL THE HEADS IN THE WORLD. EDWARD BULWER-LYTTON
No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character. JOHN MORLEY
The measure of a person's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. THOMAS MACAULAY
Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece—by thought, choice, courage, and determination. JOHN LUTHER
What are You MADE OF?
WHAT ARE YOU made of? Abraham Lincoln said, "Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."
Do you have a stout heart? Are you strong like a mighty oak tree? Do your roots go deep? Are you a person of substance? When the sky gets dark and the weather gets rough, does your character stand strong like a growing tree, or does it fade away the same way a shadow does when the clouds roll in?
The choice is yours. You can spend the day hoping for the sun to shine, so that you look good. Or you cultivate your character, growing it daily inch by inch, until one day it not only provides your strength, but also stands as a symbol of stability to those around you.
When you do the things you have to do when you have to do them, the day will come when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them. ZIG ZIGLAR
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved. HELEN KELLER
You never display your character more clearly than when you speak about the character of others. JOHN C. MAXWELL
If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other—while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity or insincerity—then, in the long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do—even using so–called good human relations techniques—will be perceived as manipulative. STEPHEN COVEY
You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good. JERRY WEST
A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world's torrent. JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE
Insight into CHARACTER
1. Gifts and talents are given to us, but character is developed by us.
2. Our character is crucial because it earns the trust of others.
3. Only good character gives us lasting success with people.
4. Strong character communicates credibility and consistency.
5. Our character colors our perspective.
6. We cannot rise above the limitations of our character.
How an individual plays the game shows part of his character. How he loses shows all of it.
Character is the sum total of all our everyday choices. MARGARET JENSEN
Some men succeed by what they know; some by what they do; and a few by what they are. ELBERT HUBBARD
How you spend your spare time is a test of your character. JOHN C. MAXWELL
What you do may fade away. What you are survives you in the way it impacts others. JOHN C. MAXWELL
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You. KING DAVID OF ISRAEL (PSALM 25:21)
No man can for any considerable time wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one. NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
Sow a Thought, and you reap an Act; Sow an Act, and you reap a Habit; Sow a Habit, and you reap a Character; Sow a Character, and you reap a Destiny.CHAPTER 3
VALUES are a CHOICE
TRY NOT TO BECOME MEN OF SUCCESS. RATHER, BECOME MEN OF VALUE. ALBERT EINSTEIN
Look at our heroes, what we spend our money on, what we watch on TV—that is what we value. Changing things is the problem. It's not a question of hoeing at the weeds on the surface of society, but of a real root job. NICOLS FOX
The real measure of a man's worth is how much he would be worth if he lost all his money. HAROLD J. SMITH
Is it Time for REALIGNMENT?
YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE choices about your values. Some you might have weighed carefully and acted upon with intentionality. They are likely things you celebrate. Others you have made without any conscious thought and you live them by default. You might not even be aware of these decisions.
How can you discover the unconscious values you've embraced? Look at how you spend your time and money. Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck observed, "When we love something it is of value to us, and when something is of value to us, we spend time with it, time enjoying it, and time taking care of it."
Perhaps it is time to conduct a values audit in your life. Look at your calendar. Review your budget and compare it to your spending habits. Think about your passions. All of those things will lead you invariably to an accounting of your values. If you are living by values that run contrary to your ideals, philosophy, or theology, consider what changes you must make to align who you are, what you believe, and what you do.
Nice guys may appear to finish last, but usually they are running in a different race. KEN BLANCHARD & NORMAN VINCENT PEALE
There's harmony and inner peace to be found in following a moral compass that points in the same direction, regardless of fashion or trend. TED KOPPEL
It's foolish to expect an empty bag to stand up straight.
Values are like ...
1. Anchors — They hold you steady during rough times.
2. Friends — They stay with you and assure you.
3. The North Star — They are always dependable to guide you.
4. A Fresh Wind — They give you refreshing encouragement.
How to Live Out Your Values with Integrity
1. Articulate your values clearly.
2. Review them daily.
3. Practice them purposefully.
4. Make decisions with them strategically
5 Teach them to your family intentionally.
6. Recognize them in each other publicly.
7. Celebrate them continually.
You don't make decisions because they are easy. You don't make decisions because they are cheap. You don't make decisions because they are popular. You make decisions because they are right. THEODORE HESBURGHCHAPTER 4
SELF-DISCIPLINE is a CHOICE
IT IS NOT THE MOUNTAINS WE CONQUER, BUT OURSELVES. SIR EDMUND HILLARY
What we do on some great occasion will probably depend on what we already are; and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline. H.P. LIDDON
If we don't discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us. WILLIAM FEATHER
What Made the DIFFERENCE
IN HIS BOOKThe Life God Blesses, my friend Gordon MacDonald tells a story about his experiences on the track team at the University of Colorado in the late fifties. In particular, he remembers the difficult workouts he did with a teammate named Bill. "To this day I have anguished memories of our workouts each Monday afternoon," says Gordon. "The memories are onerous because the workouts were. When those Monday workouts ended, I would stagger in exhaustion to the locker room."
But Bill was different. Undoubtedly, those workouts were demanding to him, too. When he was done, he would rest on the grass near the track. But after about twenty minutes, while Gordon showered, Bill would repeat the entire workout!
Bill didn't consider himself to be an exceptional athlete in college. During his years at the University of Colorado, he never earned a medal in national collegiate championship competition, nor was he named an All–American. "I was not a great athlete," observed Bill, "but I had the 'bag of tricks' theory ... that is, there is no big move you can make in your training or in competition, but there are thousands of little things you can do."
Bill may not have made a great impact during his college years, but his discipline and desire paid off over time. His best events were the long jump and the 400. He kept working on those and added other skills so that he could compete in the decathlon. Through disciplined effort and continual improvement, the unspectacular college athlete who had worked out next to (and ahead of) Gordon MacDonald became a world–famous athlete. Bill was none other than Bill Toomey, the decathlete inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984. He set a world record in the decathlon in 1966, won an gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics in 1968, and won five national decathlon championships in a row—an accomplishment that has yet to be matched in his sport.
What elevated Toomey to such high accomplishment was his discipline. Gordon MacDonald's insight says it all: "The difference between the two of us began on Monday afternoons during workouts. He was unafraid of discipline and did the maximum; I was afraid of discipline and did the minimum."
Excerpted from The Choice is Yours by John C. Maxwell. Copyright © 2005 Maxwell Motivation, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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